With Senator Ben Nelson coming on board after a hard fought compromise on abortion was reached the Democratic Party has reached the 60 vote margin necessary to pass the Senate version of health care reform. Nelson achieved more than changes in language dealing with abortion, securing legislative advantage on several fronts for his home state of Nebraska. The left feels that the bill has moved in the wrong direction in several areas, and has let its displeasure be known. Howard Dean has been prominently critical, and has taken some return fire from the Administration. White House senior advisor David Axelerod this week said it would be “insane” to derail this bill based on the objections raised. During an interview on “This Week” Axelrod took pains to say he had not called Dean insane.
I didn’t say he was insane, I want to make that clear. Howard Dean is a friend of mine. I have a great respect for him. He is a medical doctor, and I know he feels passionately about that. What I said was, it would be insane to pass on an opportunity to enact the reform that would have such positive impact on our future and on the well-being of families across this country.
And I still believe that. It was probably an unfortunate choice of words.
So the bill will pass, but the conference with the House will be a contentious affair, and Senator Nelson made it very clear that he will vote against a Conference Committee bill that alters the terms of the items he has negotiated. That will be a bitter pill for House conferees to swallow. The Democrats made progress, but this process is not yet complete.
See the full Axelrod interview here.